THEATRE REVIEW: Stay Awake, Jake starring Ahmed Hamad at Southwark Playhouse


WHEN?: 19/12/20 (matinee), runs to 19/12/20 RUNTIME: 70 minutes

The best thing about this one-man musical is its star who is fresh from Rent in Manchester and the RSC’s production of David Walliams and Robbie Williams’ musical The Boy In The Dress.

  • Read on for reasons including which other Tim Gilvin musical we reviewed this year

Ahmed Hamad has a likability and everyman quality which is important given this Tim Gilvin one-act musical is about the titular Jake who is driving from London to Carlisle to reunite with his girlfriend Sofia after an argument that has separated them for a month.

Gilvin also co-wrote Fat Rascal’s Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula The Sea Witch, the album of which we very much enjoyed earlier this year.

We saw the 2nd of 3 live-streamed performances of this show which has a complicated history including winning the S&S Award for best unproduced musical in 2014, and the VAULT Festival Origins Award for new writing in 2016. This new production features new songs, and new orchestrations.

Jake narrates the story of his troubled relationship as he drives across England’s deserted motorways in the middle of the night and it’s a clever conceit which makes perfect sense in this context.

We don’t know the titles of the songs but we particularly enjoyed the story of how Jake and Sofia date with ‘A Tribe Called Quest’ rhymed with ‘Sutton Laserquest’ and tiny important details including the heat of the food the couple eat in Chinatown.

We’re delighted the musical’s album will be released in 2021 because this was the 1st time we’d heard the score and we suspect it will be worth listening to again.

The moment three-quarters of the way through this musical when it suddenly becomes clearer what is going on with a difficult phone call between the couple and the heartstrings are tugged and we are onboard for the rollercoaster of a finale.

Hamad sings tenderly and holds the whole thing together naturally without ever resorting to stagey excesses which would burst the show’s believability bubble.

  • Picture via Facebook courtesy Southwark Playhouse Tickets
  • Have you seen any of these shows? Let us know what you thought in the comments below
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